A VOTE IS A POWERFUL THING

Why voting matters.

After learning about the history and importance of voting in her elementary school classroom, narrator and protagonist Callie is smitten by the possibilities of the vote. When her teacher tells the class they will be voting on their class field trip—a choice between the cookie factory (free samples!) or the wilderness park—Callie campaigns for the wilderness park. The park is very important to Callie because it is where she saw her “first swallowtail butterfly,” her “first turtle in a pond,” and even a great horned owl. Additionally, Callie knows that the park’s budget is up for a townwide vote because her grandmother has been out campaigning for the funding. Callie thinks that if the class visits the park, her classmates will experience the beauty of nature and will encourage their families to visit (and support funding) it. Some classmates who have never been to the park don’t see why it would be more fun than a cookie factory, but Callie does her research and makes her presentation. Another classmate makes a presentation for the cookie trip. Then comes the vote….The story unfolds smoothly, and the agreeable but undistinguished illustrations feature people of many skin colors, people who use wheelchairs, and a woman in a hijab. Narrator Callie has pale skin and brown hair. Backmatter pages give further voting information (who, how, history timeline) and resources.

Gets the job done. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8498-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A delightful celebration.

YOUR NAME IS A SONG

A girl learns to appreciate her long name and the diverse names of others.

A Black child wearing cornrows braided into an afro puff watches her classmates in the schoolyard playing handball. Momma arrives, wearing a bright headwrap, and asks about her first day of school. The girl is upset because no one could say her name—not even the teacher. Reflecting the title, Momma tells her to tell her teacher her name is a song. As they walk through the streets, swaying and dancing to the sounds of street musicians and music from cars, Momma sings names from many different cultures. (Each name is spelled phonetically in parentheses for ease of caregivers reading aloud.) The next day, “the girl didn’t want to go to school, but she had songs to teach.” She even shows her teacher that “Miss Anderson” is a song. This lovely celebration of African American culture, featuring a Muslim family, offers a fresh way to look at the tradition of creating new names; Momma says, “Made-up names come from dreamers. Their real names were stolen long ago so they dream up new ones. They make a way out of no way, make names out of no names—pull them from the sky!” A glossary notes the origins and meanings of the names included in the text, with a note to always listen closely to how a person pronounces their name. The dynamic, pastel-hued illustrations reflect energy and strength.

A delightful celebration. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-943147-72-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A visually striking, compelling recollection.

FROM THE TOPS OF THE TREES

The author recounts a formative childhood experience that continues to inspire her today.

Born to Hmong refugees, Kalia has only ever known the confines of the Ban Vinai refugee camp in Thailand. Even while playing with her cousins, reminders of the hardships of their life are always present. She overhears the aunties sharing their uncertainty and fear of the future. They are a people with no home country and are still trying to find peace. Kalia asks her father why they live behind a gate and wonders what lies beyond the fences that surround the camp. The next day they climb a tall tree, and he shows her the vast expanse around them, from familiar camp landmarks to distant mountains “where the sky meets earth.” This story of resilience and generational hope is told in an expressive, straightforward narrative style. The simplicity of the text adds a level of poignancy that moves readers to reflection. The layered and heavily textured illustrations complement the text while highlighting the humanity of the refugees and providing a quiet dignity to camp life. The militarylike color palette of olive greens, golden yellows, and rich browns reinforces the guarded atmosphere but also represents the transitional period from winter to spring, a time ripe with anticipation and promise.

A visually striking, compelling recollection. (author's note, glossary, map.) (Picture book/memoir. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5415-8130-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A lively introduction to the work of a Hebrew language scholar and lover—and his family.

THE LANGUAGE OF ANGELS

A STORY ABOUT THE REINVENTION OF HEBREW

The ancient Hebrew language enters the modern world.

In 1885 Jerusalem, a young boy named Ben-Zion cannot converse with the polyglot children of his age because his father has decreed that he speak only Hebrew, “the first child in more than two thousand years” to do so. The father, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, is a Zionist immigrant to Palestine and fervently believes that Jews from every country, speaking so many different languages, should return to the language of their ancestors and of Jewish Scripture. Ben-Zion is not popular in the neighborhood; some consider Hebrew a holy tongue to be used only in prayer. The father persists and finds that he needs to invent words to modernize the ancient language. Thus, by combining the Hebrew words for “wheel” and for “a pair of” he creates a word for bicycle. Ben-Yehuda’s work leads to a network of schools, a dictionary, and the eventual designation of Hebrew in 1948 as the national language of Israel. Michelson’s account, based on history, is presented as a story with invented dialogue, which he addresses in his author’s note. Gudeon’s digitized watercolor illustrations, full of children, are lively and feature Hebrew words and letters as part of the page design.

A lively introduction to the work of a Hebrew language scholar and lover—and his family. (afterword, further reading) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58089-636-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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